Becomes apparent Mike Ashley definitely wanted Rafa Benitez out of Newcastle
Mike Ashley has just experienced another Sissoko moment.
Back in 2016, he banked an unbelievable £30m thanks to a massive price boost, when the midfielder produced a handful of good to excellent displays at the European Championships with France.
A £15m or so player seeing his value magically double, a case of right place right time for Mr Ashley.
After three goals in the first six and a half months of the 2018/19 Premier League season, Ayoze Perez was looking set to head back to Spain and achieve his dream of playing in La Liga. A £10m or so transfer fee within the reach of at least a few interested clubs, outside of the two Madrid clubs and Barcelona, who would be shopping at a higher quality level.
However, Miguel Almiron arrived and helped spark a massive improvement in form and goals for Perez, with Rondon the perfect third part of the attacking trio, the former Tenerife frontman suddenly found nine goals in the final 10 or so weeks of PL matches.
Those goals and overall form taking Ayoze Perez out of the price range for your non-elite Spanish clubs and Leicester City of the super rich Premier League, thinking nothing of shelling out £30m today for the striker, somewhere between two and three times his value back in February.
Changing tack, back in April Lee Charnley spoke out on behalf of Mike Ashley when the accounts for 2017/18 were made public, he said that this summer at least £60m would be made available to the manager to spend, plus any money from player sales.
As Rafa’s contract counted down throughout June, the newspapers, with the Chronicle the main cheerleader, continued to insist that Mike Ashley and NUFC did really want Rafa Benitez to stay. They even claimed this still after he left! Blaming ‘stubbornness’ from both owner AND manager, stating how it was puzzling that it had come to this when (according to them) both Mike Ashley and Rafa Benitez had wanted the Spaniard to stay on.
This week we saw Rafa quickly snapped up by Dalian Yifang, the Spaniard saying all the right things talking up his new club and league BUT also making clear that if there had been an attractive option in Europe, he wouldn’t have been heading to the Chinese Super League.
Despite what the Chronicle and many others claimed, not only was Mike Ashley not doing that much to try and keep him, I think he clearly wanted the manager out of the club.
If Rafa Benitez was truly going to get that £60m plus proceeds from player sales, I think he would have 100% stayed.
Just look at the amounts of money swilling around.
If you take that £60m+ as your starting point, chuck in the £30m for Perez, Hayden (£15m) needing to leave, Shelvey and Gayle also to be sacrificed for £15m+ each after playing little/no part in last season for Newcastle. You are already up to £135m, then if he was going to really try and lift the quality of the squad we could/would also see a whole host of squad players traded – such as Clark, Manquillo, Murphy, Darlow, as well as the more obvious Colback, Saivet, Aarons, Lazaar and so on, even at a minimum adding another £15m to take that overall total up to £150m.
For me, Mike Ashley definitely wanted Rafa out and made clear he would get sweet FA.
Working from the basic figures above, if allowed to wheel and deal, the cash would definitely have been there for Rafa to spend £120m+ this summer.
If allowed to spend that on rebooting this NUFC squad and building on a core of Schar, Lascelles, Lejeune, Dubravka, Rondon (as his first no-brainer signing), Longstaff, as well as the grit/character that the likes of Dummett and Ritchie bring to the team/squad, Rafa Benitez would have said game on.
Ayoze Perez is only the first, so £90m+ already swilling around. However, he clearly won’t be the last one sold this summer.
The only question now is what will happen to the £100m/£125m/£150m that has generated by the club, through both Premier League revenues and player sales?
Mike Ashley refused to let Rafa Benitez have any net spend last summer and then lifted £33m out of the cash flow.
Just look at how much money is going to be there this summer and the NUFC owner said to be desperate to raise extra funds to continue his game of real life Monopoly, buying up yet more ailing companies but hoping for a better success rate of late.
Could Mike Ashley be really planning on lifting another £100m or so from the Newcastle United revenues/cash flow?
The thing is, in the past when you have said surely he isn’t going to do that, he does end up doing it.
All of this as well brings us to the subject of the claimed Newcastle United Takeover.
Why on earth would he be selling this golden goose when it is churning out more golden eggs than it has ever done in the past? Especially when he clearly convinces himself that whatever he does, the team (in his opinion) will always have a very good chance of avoiding relegation.
In his head, Rafa Benitez only played a small part in these two seasons of survival on next to no net spend.
When you consider he is already as we speak saving every day on Rafa’s £6m per year salary, for Mike Ashley, if not the fans, it is most definitely a case of ‘You have never had it so good’ at St James Park.
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